Men’s Basketball taking it ‘one day at a time’ — Inside Rob Lanier’s preparation

Coach Rob Lanier instructs his players of a play during a timeout against Georgia Southern University. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

When asked about his team’s preparations for the upcoming season, Georgia State men’s basketball head coach Rob Lanier emphasized two things: taking it one day at a time and building good habits back up.

“No, it’s not a motto. It’s just … just a reality of the circumstances,” he said. “How do you prepare for a season when you don’t know when the season starts?”

The team’s gradual approach to the unknown, which is the 2020-21 season, involves skill work, individualized workouts and open-mindedness. With everyone wearing a mask during workouts, trying to build a routine seems far-fetched.

Despite the difficulties, Lanier’s sole focus is on what he can control to push the team in a positive direction. And for a guy who has no idea when he will be coaching his next basketball game, Lanier continues to keep his sets set on one thing.

“We just have to remain present right now and focus in on what we can do,” he said. “We can just worry about today. And then when we know what the season is going to look like, then we can start setting our sights on that.”

Like the rest of Division I college basketball programs and most fall and winter sports for that matter, Lanier’s veteran-led squad continues to practice individually. Four players, four coaches and four baskets: the only action the Panthers have seen since March. 

The Panthers return a number of key players from last year’s 19-13 squad that got knocked out in the second round of the Sun Belt Tournament last season. All-Conference guards Kane Williams (second-team) and Justin Roberts (third-team) are arguably the best backcourt in the conference.

With Lanier entering his second season at Georgia State, taking the foreseeable future one day at a time is the only option.

“Our workouts are planned and in trying to build consistency with making good decisions, practicing good habits, so that we can eventually get to a point where we’ve got the whole group in the gym having normal practices,” Lanier said.

Among those good decisions: not attending parties, not being around large groups of people and, instead, devoting their time to their craft.

“We’ve tried to do a lot of things with these guys off the court to educate them and enlighten them on what’s going on in the world and to just be cautious with the decisions they make as it relates to the virus,” Lanier said.

As for figuring out the next pieces of the hardest puzzle of his 31-year coaching career, Lanier is not focusing on their inability to play games. 

“In general, we just don’t know, in college athletics, what these seasons are going to look like,” he said. “In terms of how I feel about my team, that doesn’t change. But what it looks like as it relates to the season, I’m not going to put a lot of energy into trying to figure that out. Nobody knows. So we have to take it one day at a time.”